Case Study: Meet Alex Elliott, Founder of Recruited

Thank you so much, Alex, for taking the time to speak to us today. We know each other well now but can you please introduce yourself briefly to those who are discovering you for the first time?

I am Alex Elliott, the founder of Recruited. I have spent the last decade building product teams for some of the world's most recognised tech companies whilst scaling leadership teams throughout the UK, Europe and US.

"For me, the fundamental markers of a great recruiter are integrity, honesty, compassion and true knowledge of the market and industry that you trade in."

About you and recruitment

To start with, can you tell us more about your approach to recruitment?  

At Recruited, our approach is simple. We immerse ourselves deeply into the Product community, we support events, conferences, groups, etc. We partner with Product-focussed companies that aim to positively impact people’s lives. On the talent side, we take pride in supporting amazing Product talent to find them their dream jobs.

Why is recruitment fun to you?  

Recruitment feeds my constant hunger to learn more about technologies and the people behind them - what makes them tick, what has their journey been, and so forth.

What makes Product recruitment particularly exciting?

Product Management is really broad, depending on the context, the ideal profile will differ, there could be an element of psychology, strategy, technical abilities… I also love the fact that [Product] aligns an organisation around a united vision. And finally, I find that Product people are incredibly inspiring. 

With ten years under your belt in Product recruitment, you have had many placements, but has there been one in particular that you are most proud of?

In all honesty, it’s really hard to name just one. There are many aspects in how a placement can make you proud. For example, it could be the satisfying feeling of helping someone find their dream role, or when you can sense the relief that founders feel when they finally get a critical hire done. 

But I must admit, I do find great satisfaction when you’ve gone above and beyond to make sure that everything goes through, and you see  [the candidate’s and the company’s] success as time goes by, knowing that you played a part in that, it makes you incredibly proud. 

According to you, what makes a great recruiter?

As we all know, recruiters unfortunately don’t have the best reputation. For me, the fundamental markers of a great recruiter are integrity, honesty, compassion and true knowledge of the market and industry that you trade in. You have to know what you are talking about and if you don’t, you need to learn.

Early  in your career you have to fake it a bit, but to make it, you have to care, you have to learn, you have to be passionate [about the work]. Otherwise, you won’t be long lasting. 

You also have to give back to the wider community. And that is one of the reasons why we launched our blog called Product Speak - a platform for PMs from a variety of backgrounds to share their knowledge. It’s all self funded, it has no purpose other than giving back to the community and ensuring that people can continue to learn and that we can help them.

It’s very interesting that you are saying that. We have noticed a similar pattern with other great recruiters who partake in the ReEcho Exchange. They are passionate about giving back to the wider community through events, podcasts, blogs, etc. And they truly know their industry and market in and out. Which, speaking of the market, do you have any insights you would like to share regarding Product in particular?

In the past 8-12 months, the market has been really tough due to the economic conditions, with investment having decreased, companies running lean, redundancies and cost of living effectively affecting talent. Product Management has been dramatically affected by this. People who wouldn’t normally struggle to find a new role have, for the first time in a while (or ever), struggling with finding their next role. 

What piece of advice would you give talent looking for a Product role in the current market? 

My main advice is, although there are green shoots appearing here and there, you need to be actively involved in the community and build relationships with trusted recruiters. And of course, spend time on your personal brand. You really need to stand out when the supply-demand dynamics have shifted. We talk more about that in our latest blog article so you can learn more there.

Before we move on to learn more about your personal journey as an independent recruiter, what is one thing you would like hiring companies to know about you? 

I have a true understanding of the Product market and I am somebody who genuinely is passionate about building great Product teams. Beyond having a really strong network and being able to identify people on paper, I also have a good understanding of soft and hard skills in Product management, what makes a PM tick, how  they fit in the company’s specific culture… I always go above and beyond to serve my clients because I care and am keen on building long term relationships with the businesses I work with.

"There was a lot of learning as to how to run a business, learn about contracts, invoicing, chasing payments, etc. Thankfully working with ReEcho has helped me a lot."

About your journey as an independent recruiter

Thank you for these insightful answers. As recruiters ourselves, we find your journey inspiring. And we are sure others out there are curious to know more about how you got there. So when did you first realise that you wanted to become independent?

During COVID, I decided the time was right. I had worked for 8 years at Salt and got promoted. A part of me felt that I had outgrown the company, and I had personal aspirations to build a company that focuses solely on Digital Product Management. 

What was your biggest apprehension about going solo? 

Loneliness – I had spent my entire career in an office, surrounded by a great team around. Going independent meant losing out on being with those people. Not having those daily interactions was my biggest fear. 

Can you tell us more about how things unfolded for you once you finally made the jump?

When I took the leap of faith, the timing was perfect, the market was thriving and there was rapidly great demand for my services. I reached out to Hanna Sanford from ReEcho, with whom I have a great relationship. [ReEcho] gave me the confidence to scale the business and provided me with back end support, from a Legal and Financial standpoint in particular, so I could focus on what I do best: recruitment. 

What is the main difference between being in a firm vs being an independent?

I love being my own boss! Working independently means I can do things the way I think they should be done versus as dictated by someone else. It’s not a negative reflection on my previous employer at all, it’s just that as individuals we all have our own personalities and opinions might differ. Plus, now I have more flexibility to have a great work life balance.

What was the hardest thing for you as someone who recently went independent? What were the things that helped you overcome those challenges?

As I mentioned earlier, my biggest fear was loneliness after having been surrounded by people my entire career. The way I remediated this was going to coworking spaces so that, although they are not colleagues, there is still this sense of being surrounded by other people.

From a work perspective, there was a lot of learning as to how to run a business, learn about contracts, invoicing, chasing payments, etc. Thankfully working with ReEcho has helped me a lot - [ReEcho] have supported me across a number of avenues, especially when it comes to Legal and Financial matters. And so far I have to say that it has run very smoothly. 

If you are comfortable with sharing this, how are your earnings as an independent vs an employee in a firm?

In my last role, earnings were very good but after going independent, my earnings have grown significantly. Instead of looking at a commission scale, I get to keep around 90% of what I earn once I take into account the costs of running the business (software, hardware, branding, website, etc.).

What piece of advice would you give someone who wants to become an independent recruiter? 

Just go for it! I am a big believer in regretting the things you don’t do. So if it has been on your mind, just take the leap of faith. Even if it doesn’t work out, there will always be other opportunities for you to go back to an agency or go in-house talent partner. Just make sure that you diligently do research on how you can set up, don’t hesitate to reach out to your network for that. And based on my experience, I would also highly recommend working with ReEcho. [ReEcho] bring great value when it comes to helping run the business so that you can focus on what you do best. 

What are your plans moving forward?

I really want to establish Recruited as a brand. Speaking of, we have just rebranded so feel free to check out our new website, if you have any feedback on it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And moving forward, I would love to scale the business, maybe bring in younger recruiters, train them, help them grow and have a team that focuses on building the best product teams possible in our areas of focus i.e. the UK, Europe and the US.